Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blunkett on Brink of Deal with Banks to Introduce Joint Id and Credit Card

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blunkett on Brink of Deal with Banks to Introduce Joint Id and Credit Card

Article excerpt


DAVID BLUNKETT is poised to strike a multibillion-pound deal with the major banks which would see compulsory ID cards double as credit cards.

People could choose to use the ultra-secure identity cards to pay for shopping, reducing the amount of plastic clutter in their purses while dramatically cutting fraud at the tills.

The Home Secretary hopes the big banks will leap at the chance to "piggyback" on to ID cards if he can persuade fellow Cabinet ministers to endorse the scheme.

Credit card fraud alone costs some [pounds sterling]422 million a year and the banks are being forced to consider expensive new security measures to clamp down on the rackets.

Much of the loss is due to simple identity fraud using stolen cards - exactly the type of crime that ID cards could prevent.

Jack Straw and Gordon Brown have vowed

block compulsory cards, saying they would be hugely unpopular and costly. But Tony Blair gave the idea a powerful boost in his keynote speech to the Labour conference when he said cards could protect the public from terrorists and criminals.

Mr Blunkett is determined to win the Cabinet over, believing ID cards are essential to tackle illegal working and immigration rackets as well as combat crime and terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.

Under the Home Secretary's plans, cards would cost the public around [pounds sterling]40 each comparable with the price of renewing a passport or taking out a driving licence.

They would look exactly like credit cards

but would have unique biometric details such as iris patterns and fingerprints stored in embedded computer chips.

Critics say the costs of ID cards - [pounds sterling]40 million in year one, [pounds sterling]270 million by year seven, then falling back to [pounds sterling]170 million a year thereafter - are bound to balloon because of the complexity of the scheme.

But Mr Blunkett argues that it would be rolled in when people renew their passports or driving licences, turning into a multipurpose document. Every teenager would be issued one for free on their 16th birthday. …

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